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35 Read-Aloud Books for Elementary Schoolers

If you’re looking for the best read aloud books for elementary schoolers this list of 35 read aloud stories are perfect for families and classrooms to enjoy together.

Wondering what the best read aloud books for elementary schoolers are? This list of 35 read aloud stories will keep your family or classroom riveted!

I just returned from two back-to-back trips, which means I’ve done pretty much zero reading aloud to my girls over the past 10 days and I’ve missed it so much!

It’s just the nicest, calming end to my day to snuggle up with them on the basement couch or on one of their beds and read aloud for 20-30 minutes before tucking them all into bed.

I recently shared a list of 30 read-aloud recommendations for preschoolers or kindergarteners, and now it’s time to look at read aloud books that are just a bit more advanced.

Most of these are going to be a little advanced for a 4 or 5 year old, but are perfect read aloud books for a second or third or fourth grader.

Just looking at this list makes me happy – there are so many good books to read aloud here that we’ve enjoyed in the last year or that I can’t wait to bring out soon.

And if you don’t have the bandwidth to read aloud yourself, these are great books to listen in audiobook form too!

Tuesdays at the Castle series by Jessica Day George
My girls are OBSESSED with this series. We listened to the first one in the car and now both of my older girls have listened to the rest of the series on their own.

Bridge to Teribithia by Katherine Paterson
I mean, get your kleenex ready because this one is a tear-jerker. But it’s also SO fantastically written and has so many wonderful things to talk about with your children. (Full review here)

Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
This is the book that shot Kate DiCamillo to stardom, and it’s so sweet about a little girl who finds a dog that needs a home.

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
This is one of those ones that’s new but feels like a classic. Ella LOVES this series and has listened to them all at least twice. The last one is coming out in May and I haven’t told her yet, but it’s going to be like Christmas.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone  by J.K. Rowling
I’m the biggest Harry Potter fan on the planet and reading the first three to Ella this year was everything I’d hoped it would be. (Wondering when the right age to read Harry Potter is? I wrote a whole post about how to figure it out for your child here!)

A Little Princess by Francis Hodgson Burnett
I hadn’t read this one in YEARS, but when Ella and I read it together last year, I fully understood why it is such a classic. It’s so fantastic and I can only hope my daughters grow up as well as Sara Crewe (hopefully without the orphan bit).

Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter
It’s so nice when your child is familiar with a book or character that is part of common vernacular. Also, this book is so wonderful.

Redwall by Brain Jacques
This was one of my very favorite series as a child – I’m pretty sure I read a couple of the books at least five or six times. Ella and I read it together last year and it was a bit much for her then (these books are hefty!), but she still really enjoyed it and I think now she’d be all in.

The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks
This is on my shelf to read aloud next – I was absolutely obsessed with this series about a magical cupboard that brings toys to life, even if the movie was a flop.

Holes by Louis Sachar
While I find the Wayside School books a bit too wacky for my personal taste, I love love love this book about a boy who gets sent to a reform camp for boys and discovers that things might not be exactly what he expected.

Short by Haley Goldberg Sloan
I read this one last year and haven’t yet read it with my girls, but it was so fun and sweet.

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
This might be one of my top five all-time favorite books. Ella is reading it right now and it just about kills me that she’s reading it without me.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
I’ve read this one a couple of times and the first time I loved it and the second time I was like “this book is pretty weird.” I definitely don’t think it’s for everyone, but it’s also a total classic. (Full review here)

By the Great Horn Spoon by Sid Fleischman
We just listened to this book on our Disneyland trip about a butler and a young boy who sneak aboard a ship from Boston headed to the gold fields of California and our whole family was obsessed with it.

From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
This was one we listened to recently and I was just completely overwhelmed by how GOOD this story about siblings that run away from home and live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art is. This woman is a master.

Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry
This is such a fun twist on the classic story of Peter Pan. I mean, I’m already a massive fan of Dave Barry, but this was just perfection. (Full review here)

Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Somehow, I’ve never written a review of this book (shame on me!) but it’s just as good as everyone says. This is on my list to read to the girls soon.

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
A classic for a good reason.

A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck
We just read the first one (A Long Way from Chicago) and it’s just so funny. But this one is even better and it won the Newbery. (Full review here).

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
I love love loved this book as a child, but I haven’t yet gotten up the internal stamina to handle reading it aloud to my girls.

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser
We just finished this one in the car last week, and it was such a fun story about five siblings who are about to lose their beloved brownstone home in Harlem, thanks to a cantankerous (and mysterious) landlord who refuses to budge.

Spiderwick Chronicles series by Holly Diterlizzi
This is a perfect little fantasy series that became hugely popular. I was first introduced to it via the movies (embarrassing!) but it’s now a staple at our house – the girls love reading them and listening to them.

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
This Newbery winner, about a gorilla who lives in the saddest little mall in the land, is completely terrific. My opinion, which counts for nothing, is that the Newbery committee that year picked just right. (Full review here).

Five Children and It by E. Nesbit
This was one of my dad’s favorite books when he was a child and he read it aloud to us when I was maybe 8 or 9. I read it to Ella last year and she was just DYING over it.

The Great Brain by John D. Fitzgerald
I feel like so many people don’t know about this phenomenal series. I just read the first one aloud to the girls and we read it in about a week flat because I couldn’t get enough of re-reading this hilarious series about a little boy and his extremely smart older brother who is always looking for a way to con someone out of their money.

Owls in the Family by Farley Mowat
I still remember my mom reading this one to us in a tiny playground at a park in Las Vegas when I was a child. It’s just funny and short (be warned that it might take you a chapter or two to get into it).

Sarah Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
If you want a book you can fly through in a couple of nights, this is your book. Plus, it’s fantastic.

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
My mom did the majority of the reading aloud when I was growing up, but this one my dad read to me (and only me!) and I’ll forever have fond memories of it. Plus, it’s just so darn clever.

Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
I seriously think about this book ALL the time – it was one of my favorites growing up. And I can’t hear about a dumbwaiter without thinking of Harriet.

Rascal by Sterling North Can you imagine how crazy life would get if you adopted a little raccoon? Rascal is the right name for sure.

Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers
The real Mary Poppins isn’t quite a sweet as Julie Andrews, but she certainly gets things done. And there’s a whole series of her adventures with her little charges!

The Witches by Roald Dahl
I won’t lie – this one is super scary to me. I only read a few chapters of it to Ella and she was like “I’m never going to sleep again” but if your children are braver than me, it’s a fan favorite for those who love Roald Dahl!

Fablehaven by Brandon Mull Not only is this a fun book, but it’s also a big fat series, so if your children love it, there’s plenty more where this came from. (Full review here).

Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink
Oh my heavens, I love Caddie Woodlawn. Just as much as Laura Ingalls Wilder. I read this to the girls last year and we all loved this story about brave and strong-willed Caddie. (Full review here).

If you would like a free printable copy of this list, simply enter your email address below and it will come directly to you!

I’d love to hear about your favorite read aloud books! What titles have your elementary-school kids loved?

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23 Comments

  • Reply Elaine Doolittle March 6, 2018 at 3:10 am

    We loved The Once and Future King, by T.H.White, the story of King Arthur’s childhood. Another favorite read-aloud was Half Magic by E. Nesbitt. The Castle in the Attic by Elizabeth Winthrop was another we enjoyed. I loved Bridge to Terabithia, but I think it’s definitely for the older end of the elementary spectrum because of its theme.

  • Reply Jileen March 6, 2018 at 3:34 am

    My boys have loved The Mouse and the Motorcycle books and The Magyk series. Another book for upper elementary is Simon Bloom (the first 2 books are great! The last… not so much)

  • Reply Natalie March 6, 2018 at 7:21 am

    I would add the Wayside School books to the list—some of my all time favorites!

  • Reply Sarah R March 6, 2018 at 8:15 am

    We are reading Wonder now! I’m holding back tears as I’m reading it though. This list has so many great classics!

  • Reply April March 6, 2018 at 9:02 am

    I’m currently reading the BFG to Henry, and while it pains me to speak all that incorrect English aloud, he’s enjoying it!

  • Reply Caitlin March 6, 2018 at 9:18 am

    I always love seeing Tuesday’s at the Castle on book lists because the author is the sister of my high school AP English teacher. ☺️ My teacher mentioned in class one day that her sister’s first book was going to be published in a year or two, and I wrote down her name and the title and was so excited when I saw it hit shelves a while later. Plus, it’s a delightful book.

  • Reply Emily March 6, 2018 at 4:00 pm

    Have you read Doll People by Ann M. Martin? This is my second year doing it as a read aloud for my class. It is much loved.

  • Reply Kristin March 6, 2018 at 7:45 pm

    When I taught 4th grade, my favorite read aloud was Freak the Mighty and it’s sequel Max the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick. My students loved it. Another great read aloud for upper elementary is Petey by Ben Mikaelsen. Finally my son and I really enjoyed the Wolf Brother series by Michelle Paver.

  • Reply Danielle March 7, 2018 at 12:06 am

    Two of my favorites that haven’t been mentioned yet are Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh and The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles. I tried reading Redwall but I couldn’t stand the written vernacular. I didn’t get very far before I stopped. You are not the only person to tell me they love it though! 🙂

  • Reply Susie Bailey March 7, 2018 at 3:40 am

    My seven year old granddaughter loved Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher. It was published in 1916. My mother read it when she was little and I read and loved the copy that my grandfather gave to me the Christmas that I was seven. She also loved The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken when she was six and Treasure Island now that she is eight. There are sequels to The Wolves, but I could never get into them.

    I loved the Great Brain books and so did my two boys, but now that I am picking books for grandchildren, I have a hesitation about the first book and wonder how you handled the part where Andy wanted JD to help him “do himself in” because he felt so useless because of his peg leg. I realize that the Great Brain stops the plans and finds ways to help Andy feel useful again which is the wonderful part of Andy’s story, but still…

  • Reply Katie March 7, 2018 at 8:55 am

    Anything by Roald Dahl is always a hit at our house, but especially James and the Giant Peach. My boys also enjoyed The Mouse and the Motorcycle series. We are currently reading Indian in the cupboard and they beg for more every night! And The Chronicles of Narnia is always a good choice as well.

  • Reply Marlo March 7, 2018 at 12:07 pm

    My girls love the Penderwicks so much! It helps that we have 4 girls in our family as well. Some other books we love to read aloud are the Ramona books as well as the Henry Huggins books. I’ll always remember listening to Ribsy on our way to the county fair and then not being able to go in to the fair until we had listened to the end of the book! My girls also loved Anne of Green Gables, The Green Ember, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Half Magic, The Phantom Tollbooth, and Caddie Woodlawn. Last summer we went to see some Laura Ingalls Wilder sites, so we relistened to the Little House books, exhibit sometimes I love and sometimes not as much. We also really liked Swallows and Amazons, but my girls have not liked the sequels as much in that series. Oh, and we love the Betsy-Tacy series. You should definitely look those up for your girls. We love audiobooks!!

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  • Reply Stephanie April 13, 2018 at 9:34 pm

    My. first grade son absolutely loves for me to read the Captain Underpants books aloud. We take turns reading sometimes too for good practice. The level is a bit above where he’s at right now but it holds his interest, keeps us laughing and pushes him to read more and more sophisticated words.

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  • Reply Chiska May 12, 2018 at 6:03 am

    What a fantastic list! I have a few that we’ve loved. The Doll Collection by Lisa Pinkham has been a huge favorite. It wasn’t edited as well as I would like, but the story is fantastic. A girl gets a set of dolls for her birthday along with an opal necklace. The necklace allows her to travel to each dolls home by holding the doll’s hand. There’s a mermaid, a princess, one who lives in a forest. Each of the dolls has a distinct personality and unique world–some of them quite fantastic. All my kids have loved this series and my girls have been obsessed. The other one we loved is The Wheel on The Schoolhouse by Meindert Dejong. It’s an out of print story–but I’ve been able to find it used pretty easily. It’s the story of a class of children getting their whole town involved in finding a wheel they could put on their schoolhouse so storks will again nest in their town. It’s fantastically written and has the community working together. I LOVE this book. I like several others that Dejong has written: The House of Sixty Fathers (a story about a boy who gets separated from his family as they flee from Japanese Army. He ends up in an American Army Barracks. It’s a fun adventure read. Another one is Along Came A Dog about a stray dog finding his home in protecting a hen that has lost her feet. It’s mostly told from the perspective of the animals, but it’s a fun story. As an aside I did not like Shadrach which I have seen on lots of book lists. My kids also loved Louisa May Alcott’s Jack and Jill–about a group of kids and some of their adventures. I just remembered another favorite was The Cabin on Trouble Creek by Jean Van Leeuwen. It’s about two young boys that are left on their new homestead. It was supposed to be for a few weeks, but ended up spending the winter alone. It’s a survival story that’s interesting enough for my then 11 year old boy, but gentle enough for my girls (8 and 4 at the time) to be able to read it before bed. Thanks for the reminder to get back to reading. 🙂

  • Reply Meghan June 20, 2018 at 11:27 am

    Super list! Is there a printable list anywhere? I am terribly old school.

    • Reply Meghan June 20, 2018 at 11:29 am

      Also, my daughter loved those Nanny Piggins books you recommended! Seriously funny! I am hoping to get my hands on them to read aloud to her younger siblings this summer.

      • Reply Janssen Bradshaw June 20, 2018 at 11:39 am

        YAY!!! I’m so glad to hear it – those are the BEST.

    • Reply Janssen Bradshaw June 20, 2018 at 11:39 am

      That’s a great idea! I’ll put one together!

  • Reply Shalynn November 19, 2018 at 6:26 am

    Amen to The Penderwicks—my kids are doing it audio in the car right now and make up places to go to listen. We laugh so so hard at the Ramona (Beverly Cleary) series and the Fudge series (Judy Blume). My son loved our Old Yeller read he and I just did and my daughter The Caroline Years she and I read about Laura Ingalls mother as a girl.

  • Reply Olivia Blair November 28, 2018 at 3:51 pm

    I love reading Roald Dahl aloud! Matilda is my favorite! Charlotte’s Webb is also one I read to my students each year as well as Tail of Despereaux and Bud Not Buddy. Thanks for the list! I’m excited to read the ones I haven’t read yet!

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